Campaign to save Highgate’s festive lights after Christmas Festival is cancelled

Alex Zane, Andy Serkis and actress Lorraine Ashbourne switch on the lights at last year's Highgate C

Alex Zane, Andy Serkis and actress Lorraine Ashbourne switch on the lights at last year's Highgate Christmas Festival. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Highgate’s annual Christmas festival has been cancelled – and the village square may not have any festive lights unless thousands of pounds can be raised.

Hundreds flocked to Pond Square for last year's Highgate Christmas Festival. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Hundreds flocked to Pond Square for last year's Highgate Christmas Festival. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A lack of volunteers to help organise the yearly winter extravaganza means the festival will not go ahead for the first time since 2011.

A lower-key switch-on event with a mystery celebrity guest will instead be held on November 20 at 4.30pm without the usual stage performers, reindeer and stalls.

But there may not be any lights to illuminate in Pond Square unless £2,500 can be found to buy a new set as last year’s lights are now too old to use for another year.

The organisers have enough money to put up lights in Highgate High Street – but without extra cash, the village square will be left dark and undecorated.

Father Christmas with Princess of Highgate Kitty Underhill and elf Laurie Magnus at last year's High

Father Christmas with Princess of Highgate Kitty Underhill and elf Laurie Magnus at last year's Highgate Christmas Festival. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton


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“It would be really sad not to have any lights,” said lead organiser Jane Wiles, who owns children’s clothes shop Notsobig in Highgate High Street.

“Highgate is such a lovely place, and if we don’t have lights, people really won’t like it. Christmas is all about tradition.”

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The team need to find an additional £1,000 to install the lights on top of the £2,500 fee, which will also pay for a Christmas tree in Pond Square.

A further £1,000 is required to buy new lights for a tree at the back of the Highgate School chapel, while Haringey Council is expected to cover most of the £5,000 charge for installing the existing high street lights.

With co-organisers Chris Underhill, James Walkinson and Charlotte Bourne, who are all village estate agents, Ms Wiles has launched a fundraising campaign to make sure the whole village is illuminated come Christmas time.

But there is no chance of saving the Christmas festival until next year, when organisers hope the village will once again transform into a festive wonderland.

Ms Wiles explained: “We thought the community would get much more pleasure out of Christmas lights then just a one-day festival.

“We had to prioritise and focus on we thought would be better for everyone. We couldn’t do both a festival and the lights – it had to be one or the other.”

Celebrities including Homeland star Damien Lewis, actress Helen McCrory, and Andy Serkis, the voice of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, have switched on the lights at previous events.

The festivals were partly payrolled by private sponsors, and Ms Wiles hopes local businesses will step in once again to sponsor the Christmass tree and new lights this year.

She added: “We don’t have a lot of time and time really is of the essence to get these lights bought.”

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